|Turkey Vulture leaving pre-dawn roost at Post Oak Preserve|
|Awaiting the sunrise at Post Oak Preserve's lake|
Spring has sprung by now, slowly but surely. The lack of heavy winter rains has not left behind large stands of clover and early spring grasses on which many ranchers here in Southeast Dallas County rely on for livestock forage. It's a muted slow moving spring this year. The woods are thirsty.
With the pre-dawn skyline view of Dallas rapidly fading in the rear view mirror down 175 the goal is Post Oak Preserve south of Seagoville. A five to ten minute drive from the highway loops that ring Dallas, down into the old Post Oak Savannah that straddles the Main Fork and East Fork of the Trinity River.
Location: 1600 Bowers Road Seagoville Texas
Directions: From Dallas, take US175 south to the Seagoville Road/Kaufman Street exit. Make a right turn(south) on Environmental Way which turns into Bowers. The public parking for Post Oak Preserve is across the street from the DISD Environmental Learning Center.
Trails: Formal paved asphalt trails, formal dirt hiking trails and informal dirt hiking trails exist inside the preserve.
Points of interest are at the 1, 2 and 3 mile marks on the map. The route constitutes a matrix of all three trail types mentioned previously including moderate bushwhacking between mile 2 and 3.
Mile 1-top of dam
Mile 2-open native prairie
Mile 3-Trout Lilies
Background on the DISD Environmental Learning Center
The story behind the creation of the DISD Environmental Center is an interesting one. The center began in the 1970s, housed in a set of old buildings and barns which served as an outdoor interactive science lab for DISD students. The new facilities replacing the old were built in the mid-1990s as the result of a somewhat anonymous six million dollar donation stemming from an illegal dumping verdict.
A record fine was imposed by the Texas Water Commission in 1991 against Dal-Tile for a dozen years of dumping hazardous, lead-contaminated waste into two gravel pits in far southeastern Dallas County. The fine was the largest ever levied for environmental dumping by the state commission.
Dal-Tile, which used compounds containing lead to manufacture glazed ceramic tiles, was required by law to send contaminated wastes from the manufacturing process to special landfills but, according to the state investigation, dumped the material for 12 years, 1975-87, in pits that were not specially licensed for such purpose. State investigators also found that Dal-Tile used waste oils on nearby farmland for dust abatement, failed to notify the state it had discharged industrial solid wastes into water, and failed to keep records of the waste and file annual reports.
|Wee Folks' Trail|
The DISD center at Post Oak Preserve was born/funded from that unfortunate episode. The new campus replaced the old dilapidated and cramped buildings that once sat on the site.
Soil and Conservation Lake #6
|Post Oak Preserve's Lake from inlet of creek looking south towards Parson's Slough|
|Creek feeding the lake, lake just beyond the willow trees in foreground|
Fisherman's detritus along the shoreline suggests there are fish in the lake. The water is remarkably clear for a DFW area impoundment most likely the result of the sandy soil, high water table and lack of flooding from the nearby Trinity River.
The formal Lake Shore Trail is a little over 1/4 mile in length and begins at a picnic area on a small bluff overlooking the lake. It runs the west side of the lake before double backing upon itself to the asphalt trail. This short trail affords access to informal trails that stretch along the east side of the lake dominated by a high earthen dam.
The dam has a sloping backside to it and has seen heavy recent rooting by feral pigs. On this particular trip one feral hog in the 150 pound range was seen northeast of the lake.
|Mallard duck shaking off water droplets as it takes flight|
The lake serves as a great magnet for waterfowl. It appears that they spend their nights somewhere else and move into the lake at daybreak to feed.
Hunting is not allowed on the preserve and rules are strictly enforced.
The southeastern part of Dallas County barely skirts the flyway for migrating waterfowl rarely seen to the west. Snow Geese and Canada Geese flocks often make brief layovers in the old gravel quarry ponds that dot the landscape.
Trout Lilies -- The Western Part of the Preserve
Post Oak Preserve is most well known for the large population of Trout Lilies and Coralroot Orchids that bloom along a small creek just upstream from the inlet with the 12 acre lake.
|Hundreds of thousands of Trout Lilies at Post Oak Preserve|
|Trout Lily at Post Oak Preserve|
|Forest floor carpeted with trout lilies|
|Wildlife viewing blind|
A series of wildlife viewing blinds have been built along the creek here, roughly 3 feet high and 20 feet in diameter. They give commanding views of the woods up and down the draw in which the small creek runs. Large amounts of deer scat in this area suggest a healthy Whitetail population forages in the woods here.
Native Grass Prairie and Post Oak Savannah --The Eastern Part of the Preserve
|Native grasses at Post Oak Preserve|
Once out in the open the namesake of the preserve, the Post Oak Savannah become apparent. The post oaks form brakes and meadows inbetween over sandy soil that is rare for Dallas County. The Post Oak Savannah once stretched from East Texas into East Dallas. Very few examples are left, this is one.
If you have the eyes for it, a wanderer can pick up the faint trace of an old dirt road which leads up to a ranch gate on Seago Road.
|Ranch gate on Seago Road|
Seago was the original name for Seagoville, name taken from the town's founder T.K. Seago(1836-1904). He platted and developed the town just up the road from here on 200 acres at Kaufman Street and Old Seagoville Road now called US 175. The old highway was once called Kickapoo Trace, used by Native Americans, pioneers and eventually settlers moving from East Texas into the Three Forks of the Trinity area, now called DFW.
|King's Fort Site, Republic of Texas, overlooking Trinity Riverbottoms|
It was from here that many of the famous surveys of Dallas County began in 1840 only to be turned back by fierce Indian encounters.
Travels from here have been well documented by men like Warren Ferris as told in Land is the Cry, Warren Angus Ferris, Pioneer Texas Surveyor and Founder of Dallas County and Edward Parkinson's accounts of travel with President Sam Houston and his Treaty Party Expedition to Dallas in 1843.
A worthwhile stop if you find yourself headed to First Monday.
Getting back to the preserve......
|Painted Lady Butterfly on Mexican (Black) Cherry Tree, Post Oak Preserve|
|Texas Redbud at Post Oak Preserve|
|Golden eye lichen (Teloschistes chrysophthalmus)|